Sunday, 11 June 2017

72 Hours in Montreal: A City Guide


It's been a couple of weeks since we got back from our trip to Canada, it feels like so much longer ago though so I thought it was the perfect time to look back over the photos I took and put together a a few city guides for the places we travelled to.

Our trip started in Montreal so it seemed only fitting to kick off with this city guide first. My best friend Ash moved to Montreal just over 4 years ago so she was the ideal guide, taking us to lots of little places she's discovered over the years that we would never have found if we were normal tourists. We spent around four full days in Montreal during the two weeks we were in Canada but I've picked out my favourite bits and bobs (mostly food of course) to show you around in case you want to experience Montreal like a local.

Where to Eat and Drink


Montreal does brunch very, very well. I could have easily just eaten brunch for every meal and been happy (and full) every day. It's quite obvious I rather like food so here are my favourite spots in Montreal...


The Arts Cafe


If there's one place I wish we'd have gone back to, it was The Arts Cafe. A super cute little cafe filled with plants, books and light. I ordered the french toast which was incredible, it was essentially a triple stack brioche cheddar cheese toastie with maple syrup. It was the nuts. Everyone else had eggs benedict which looked amazing too. It's the perfect spot for brunch, and unlike quite a few places in Montreal, it serves brunch throughout the week.

Find out more here.


Faberge 


Another day, another brunch spot! Faberge isn't quite as refined as The Arts Cafe, but it's great if you want something a bit dirty. The menu was huge so there's something for everyone, I went rogue and ordered chicken and waffles (fried chicken and belgian waffles, standard breakfast) and everyone else went for mac and cheese eggs benedict, yep that's a thing. It had a really good atmosphere too, it was full of families and friends all stuffing their faces.

For more info, visit their site here.


The Melbourne Cafe


This is a great little spot for a coffee, we retreated in here to hide from an unexpected snow shower (Canadian weather is a little unpredictable). They have hundreds of different spoons from around the world so make sure to take a look at yours if you visit. They do brunch at the weekend too if you fancy it, each dish is named after a different Australian, apparently the Kylie is pretty good.

For more info, visit their site here.


Olive et Gourmando


This was the first cafe we popped into on our first day in Montreal, it was really busy so had a great atmosphere. We just stopped for a pastry and a hot chocolate to warm up after being rained on but the food looked good too. This is close to the port so is a good little spot to have in mind if you're exploring the city.

For more info, visit their site here.



 Cafe Parvis


This was 100% interior inspiration in here, everything was green, marble, pink, covered in plants or all of the above. It had me at hello. We stopped here for a quick lunch and shared a few teeny pizzas, they were fab and we had a glass (or two) of rose to wash them down, it was a lovely little spot.

For more info, visit their site here.


 Big in Japan


This is such a cool little bar, it's hidden away behind an unmarked black door so you have to hunt it down first. The cocktails here are a-mazing, and if you buy a bottle of sake it's stored for you on the ceiling, as you do. It's really dark in there and has a very speakeasy, intimate kind of feel, ideal for a few cocktails.

For more info, visit their site here.


 Saint Sushi


This was the best sushi I've EVER had in my life. Perfect for a light lunch, I'd so recommend this place. Make sure to order the lobster Christmas tree too, you won't regret it.

For more info, visit their site here.


Schwartz's Deli


This is the place to go if you like smoked meat sandwiches, they are AMAZING, a stack of smoked beef or turkey in bread that can barely contain it. It's the oldest deli in Montreal, is covered in photos of celebs who have samples their goodies (including Gosling) and is owned by Celine Dion. Definitely worth a visit, but there is always a queue so be prepared to wait if you're going at lunch time.

For more info, visit their site here.


La Cornetteria

A super cute little place near Jean Talon Market, this does the best cronuts ever. Worth a stop if you're in need of a sugar high. I had the classic custard and the others had pistachio, I wish I had one right now, they were so good!

For more info, visit their site here.

Sights to See

Even though it might not feel like it, there is more to do in Montreal than just eat and drink, we spent hours walking around exploring the city. You can walk most places pretty easily but there is also the metro and trusty Uber to ferry you around.

Because our visit to Montreal was very much to catch up with my friend Ash and see her favourite things to do in the city, our trip wasn't particularly tourist-y which is how we like it. But that said, there are a few sites that should definitely be on your list if you're heading to Montreal. Here are a few of our favourites.


Mont Royal


Montreal has a mountain in the middle of it, standard behaviour for a city. No buildings can be built taller than the mountain which means the skyline is pretty modest and you can see for miles. You can climb the mountain really easily, there are big paths and steps all the way to the top where you'll find a lake (that turns into an ice rink in winter), a museum, a giant cross that lights up and racoons if you're lucky! It's well worth a visit to take a look at the city from a different angle.

For more info, visit tripadvisor here.


Expo '67


One of the oddest places in Montreal is the abandoned site of the Expo '67, a collection of leftover sculptures and a museum. It's worth a visit to see the skyline of the city, and in summer there is always a music festival or gig to visit. We went in spring so it was a little overcast and abandoned, but was also really interesting.

Plus it's right next to the Olympic stadium and Grand Prix Track which are also worth a nosey but aren't not open to take a look around.

For more info, visit their site here.


Montreal Botanical Garden


If you know me, you'll know I'm obsessed with plants so the Montreal Botanical Garden was a must visit. We went out of season and it was a very rainy day so sadly we didn't get to explore the outside gardens which are supposed to be beautiful, but we did explore the many greenhouses full of tropical plants, cacti, ferns and beautiful flowers. There is also an Insectarium which was fascinating too, full of bugs I'd never heard of and beetles that looked like mirror balls.

For more info, visit their site here.


Street Art



Montreal is covered in graffiti, but not just any old graffiti, it's pretty much all beautiful. There is a mural festival every year where the artwork gets added to and updated so there's always fresh art to take a look at.

For more info, visit their site here, they have a fab walking tour too.


Jean Talon Market


Ok, ok so this is technically food again... But it's more of an experience than just a lunch spot, the market is full of fresh fruit and vegetables, plants and flowers but around the edges are little shops and eateries. There is also an excellent cheese shop and a gin bar, it's as if it was made for me.

For more info, visit their site here.


Notre-Dame Basilica


The Basilica is a must visit place in Montreal, it's a pretty standard Basilica from the outside (if that is such a thing) but inside it is absolutely incredible. The design is insane and the ceiling has been hand painted with thousands of tiny stars, murals and sculptures. It's also where Celine Dion got married if anyone is a huge Celine fan out there...

For more info, visit their site here.

Sugar Shack


Again, another food related sight... We're pigs. But Sugar Shacks are a traditional fixture of the maple forests of Canada, they're hidden away in the forest and the maple is tapped directly from the trees and used to create and top mountains of delicious food. We went to the Pied De Cochon Sugar Shack, it's a sister restaurant to the incredibly popular main site in Montreal and is notoriously hard to get a table, thankfully Ash and Denis managed to get hold of one for us! It was honestly the most gluttonous food I've ever eaten, from foie grois ramen to a chocolate log filled with ice cream. I'm still recovering now but it was worth every calorie.

For more info, visit their site here.

Shops to Visit

Montreal is full of little independent shops (as well as big stores of course), sadly we didn't much of a chance to shop but Ash did manage to introduce us to a few of her favourites. I didn't manage to get snaps of all of them but here are a couple of must visits if you like records and art.
 

Phonopolis

We always hunt down the best record shop wherever we are, I saw we, Joe does. He's a collector of pretty much everything but vinyl is his main vice. He'd tracked Phonopolis down online and we ventured there a couple of times, he picked up some bits he couldn't find in the UK and I grabbed an Of Montreal vinyl because, well, when in Rome.

For more info, visit their site here.


Monastiraki

This was an odd little shop which we initially walked past thinking it was full of tat until we actually looked in the window and saw beautiful prints, interesting books and higgledy piggledy colour co-ordinated displays and just had to head inside. It was an eclectic collection of wonderful knick knacks, prints and DIY zines including the wonderful flamingo prints by Amelie Legault. We ended up picking out a print of Montreal in grey, green and blue that you'll no doubt see in upcoming posts and can just about see above in Joe's hands.

I hope you like our little whistle stop tour of every single restaurant in Montreal, I now realise why I returned home slightly larger than when I left... We're already thinking about our next trip and where to head and I cannot wait to visit Canada again!
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2 comments

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